The Barbican, a vast residential, commercial and arts complex, takes its name from an early fortification on the site. Designed to attract people back to the ruined City of London, work began on the centre in 1962, on a site devastated by World War II bombs.
The ambitious scheme, built in reinforced concrete faced with dark granite, took nearly 20 years to complete.
The popular arts centre comprises a concert hall, two theatres, a cinema, art gallery and public library. Although the arts centre is surrounded by residential blocks it is softened by an ornamental lake, fountains and lawns.
The Barbican Art Gallery has two exhibition spaces. On the first floor is the large open-plan Gallery and above, off a continuous corridor, is a series of display areas. The Gallery is one of the largest galleries in London for major touring art exhibitions, regularly having exhibitions of modern and historical works, as well as photographic shows. There are also shows focusing on fashion and design.
The Gallery holds six or seven exhibitions a year and often has two separate but linked shows in the two spaces. The admission charge covers both shows.
The ‘Curve’ space, located near the Silk Street entrance to the Barbican, hosts five contemporary shows each year
Admission charge to Art Gallery. The Curve is usually free.